Kernel Module

This kernel module implements a basic interface to the IVSHMEM device for Looking Glass in VM->VM mode.

Additionally in VM->host mode, it can be used to generate a shared memory device on the host machine that supports dmabuf.


The linux kernel headers for your kernel version are required for building. Install them with apt-get

apt-get install linux-headers-$(uname -r)

Then switch to the module/ directory

cd module/

Compiling & Loading (Manual)

To compile the module manually, run make in the module directory.


For VM->VM mode, run:

insmod kvmfr.ko

For VM->host mode with dmabuf, instead of creating a shared memory file, load this module with the parameter static_size_mb. For example, a 32 MB shared memory device can be created with:

insmod kvmfr.ko static_size_mb=32

Multiple devices can be created by separating the sizes with commas. For example, static_size_mb=128,64 would create two kvmfr devices: kvmfr0 would be 128 MB and kvmfr1 would be 64 MB.

Using DKMS

You can use the kernel’s DKMS feature to keep the module across upgrades. dkms must be installed.

apt-get install dkms


To install the module into DKMS, run

dkms install "."


For VM->VM, simply modprobe the module:

modprobe kvmfr

For VM->host with dmabuf, modprobe with the parameter static_size_mb:

modprobe kvmfr static_size_mb=32

Just like above, multiple devices can be created by separating the sizes with commas.


The module will create the /dev/kvmfr0 node, which represents the KVMFR interface. To use the interface, you need permission to access it by either: creating a udev rule to ensure your user can read and write to it, or simply change its ownership manually, ie:

sudo chown user:user /dev/kvmfr0

As an example, you can create a new file in /etc/udev/rules.d/99-kvmfr.rules with the following contents:

SUBSYSTEM=="kvmfr", OWNER="user", GROUP="kvm", MODE="0660"

(replace user with your username)

Usage with Looking Glass is simple, you only need to specify the path to the device node, for example:

./looking-glass-client -f /dev/kvmfr0

You may also use a config file: ~/.looking-glass-client.ini, or /etc/looking-glass-client.ini.



In VM->host mode, use this device in place of the shared memory file.


Add the following arguments to your qemu command line:

-device ivshmem-plain,id=shmem0,memdev=looking-glass
-object memory-backend-file,id=looking-glass,mem-path=/dev/kvmfr0,size=32M,share=yes


The size argument must be the same size you passed to the static_size_mb argument when loading the kernel module.


Create the following XML block in your domain:

  <qemu:arg value='-device'/>
  <qemu:arg value='ivshmem-plain,id=shmem0,memdev=looking-glass'/>
  <qemu:arg value='-object'/>
  <qemu:arg value='memory-backend-file,id=looking-glass,mem-path=/dev/kvmfr0,size=32M,share=yes'/>


Remember to add xmlns:qemu='' to the <domain> tag.

Running libvirt this way violates AppArmor and cgroups policies, which will block the VM from running. These policies must be amended to allow the VM to start.

For AppArmor, create /etc/apparmor.d/local/abstractions/libvirt-qemu if it doesn’t exist, and add the following:

# Looking Glass
/dev/kvmfr0 rw,

For cgroups, edit /etc/libvirt/qemu.conf, uncomment the cgroup_device_acl block, and add /dev/kvmfr0 to the list. Then restart libvirtd:

sudo systemctl restart libvirtd.service


For convenience, you may load the KVMFR module when starting your computer. We can use the systemd-modules-load.service(8) service for this task.

Create the file /etc/modules-load.d/kvmfr.conf with the following contents:

#KVMFR Looking Glass module

This will now run the next time you start your machine.

If you are running in VM->host mode, you must additionally create another file /etc/modprobe.d/kvmfr.conf to properly set the size. It should have the following contents:

#KVMFR Looking Glass module
options kvmfr static_size_mb=32


Don’t forget to adjust static_size_mb to your needs.